You do not know what you’ve missed if you’ve never jumped into the ancestry discovery pool. Take my genealogy experience as a cautionary tale unless, of course, you enjoy confusion and voids.
To keep this as clear and concise as possible, I’ll sum it up this way. My paternal grandfather is unknown. My grandmother became pregnant at a time when a woman was ostracized for being pregnant and unmarried, and guy apparently wasn’t interested in a family. He disappeared.
The man I knew as my grandfather married my grandmother to give her unborn child a surname. He was a gentleman and a heck of a grandpa. They were together for almost fifty years before his time came.
The circumstances of my father’s conception and one or two other little ancestral issues stopped any discussion of research into Dad’s family tree. The story is slightly different on my mother’s side of the family.
Her family tree was a thing of legend in some ways. The family history claimed my grandmother was a direct descendant of a Native American couple born in Texas and raised in Louisiana. He was Choctaw, and she was Cherokee. The family was proud of their roots and had many stories about their Native American cousins, some of whom became successful businessmen.
Unfortunately, there were some dark stories about my maternal grandfather and his side of the family. So, his family history was mostly ignored. Everyone just held on to the proud Native American side of the family history and did not say much about the side that included the sad and premature ending of my grandfather’s life.
With a background such as this, I was almost forced to explore the issue myself. If my natural curiosity was not enough to make me examine my family tree, the late 1960s gave me another reason.
My defense industry employer asked me to verify my Native American ancestry so they could list me as a minority. Later, one of my children asked the same thing because a friend with distant Native American ancestors reaped significant benefits from the heritage.
Unfortunately, even with the help of several genealogy services and DNA testing, my verifiable ancestry ends with my maternal grandmother and my paternal great-grandparents. On the other hand, my DNA regularly hints at people who might be fourth, fifth, or more distant cousins. Of course, my DNA also indicates I have Asian, European, Neanderthal, and Denisova ancestry.
That last two sets of anecstors are interesting. I’ve been called a Neanderthal a couple of times, but I never knew about Denisovans until my DNA results came back.
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